The Sun Won’t Swallow the Sky

One the many things I hope the wider world never discovers is my wikipedia search history. This is because, as well as a thirst for inanity, it also betrays all the grim, gory stuff I read about. Things I will feel no better for knowing, but have to look at anyway.

The other week, while looking for something else entirely, I came across a blog written by an ex-Muslim. I have been reading it avidly ever since.

Now, I am a Muslim, though one who falls into that category of being content with Islam and certainly very happy to have God in my life, but often displeased by the actions of certain Muslims. There is also the fact of certain events leaving me with a major distrust of most ‘authority figures’ in modern Islam.  

The thought of leaving Islam chills me. It’s not about the possible loss of my husband, the fracturing of my identity, as much as the thought of going back to having that empty space that my faith now fills. I did not like having that empty space, for me it was a world without a heartbeat.

There also the gasp factor around people leaving Islam.

This gasp factor is odd for two reasons:

1)I’ve known several people online leave Islam and at least one in real life. I am sure most people reading this have too. It is not that rare.

2)Until you get married and ‘settle’, converts are always being viewed as at risk of leaving Islam. Miss a few jummahs and people will quickly presume that you’re off being/with a crack whore.

This means we are too busy gasping to actually talk about why people leave Islam.

If we do talk about it, it’s soundbite-city.

“They didn’t know true Islam/ had weak faith”

“Other Muslims treated them badly”

“It’s all a plot and they we never Muslim in the first place.”

Then off course, there is the matter of our brethren who get all bloodthirsty when such things are mentioned.

Just to state the obvious here, death threats and hostile behaviour towards anyone is wrong and shameful. Yes, even if they are insulting Islam, because let’s face it, it will be the same half dozen accusations we have all heard many times over. Without seeming too obvious, but surely the best way to defend Islam, it to do good deeds and be generally lovely?

I digress.

The fact is this blog is detailed and very well written, showing someone’s gradual disillusionment with Islam and belief in God. I read elsewhere someone talking about this blog and they said they felt a lingering darkness reading it. Which is ironic, because the author would describe themselves as being very happy as an atheist.

I also felt this darkness and yet I cannot stop reading it. I think that is partly the odd compulsion to read something, even though it makes me feel uneasy and quite frankly, saddens me.

However, more than that, I read it because I think it is a viewpoint that we as Muslims need to hear. The blog holds up a mirror to our community and our discourses and the reflection is not what one might hope for.

People have always converted to and deserted from Islam, along with any other religion. Whether the numbers are rising or falling in either direction is difficult to define, and rightly so, as such matters are ultimately the property of our deepest selves.

So while what draws or repels someone from faith may be as unique as snowflakes, we as a community should not just look the other way, or mock.

Issues like:

  • Over-emphasis on marriage, coupled with atrocious marital advice (complete stranger marriages and marriage for papers in particular)
  • Obsessive legalism.
  • Lack of emphasis on building a relationship with God
  • Fixation with women’s roles. Not letting women figure this out for themselves.
  • Complete lack of awareness has to how soul-destroying marital abuse can be. 
  • Putting authority figures on pedestals.
  • Claiming that Islam is very simple (pre-conversion) and then immediately post-conversion, the new Muslim is no longer allowed to make any decisions without asking so and so first.

None of this is an exaggeration, and I’m sure that most of us have struggled with at least one thing on the list. So who is to say, apart from God, why some lose their faith and others keep theirs.

In general, I always come to the same conclusion and that is that we are just not kind enough to each other.

Maybe people would still leave Islam anyway, but they would do so without rancour, accepting it as something they explored, but found wanting. For those who find this too laidback, I would say that Allah takes care of the akhirah, this life is all we have in our hands at the present.

For those within Islam, kindness may save them so much misery and pain. And that is no small matter.

I’m struggling to conclude this, because what I saying really is a mountain of obviousness and yet and yet. Is in fact our lack of actions and poor behaviour a larger indicator of low faith then any blog entry by a former believer?

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35 Responses

  1. A lot of this deals with how one enters Islam. I would say from my experience working at an Islamic Centre for about 3 years, the majority of converts to Islam were women who were INVOLVED with some man of Muslim origin. Of course this isn’t true for EVERY convert, but I would say it’s a big chunk of these people leaving it when the relationship fails.

    I think instead of focusing our efforts in increasing the number of Muslims we have on our team, we make sure the ones joining understand what they are getting themselves into.

    **

    I find it fascinating when ex-Muslims were raised in the religion. It fascinates me to see them deny every aspect of what they grew up to know.

    I know for a fact, if I knew something other than Islam, I would have left long ago. But I was born in this religion and don’t feel like I have a choice. Islam has chosen me for better or for worse.

    I know this might not make much sense 🙂

  2. Subhanallah, funny u wrote this because I have recently been thinking about this issue.

    I know two women who left Islam after messy divorces after which they were basically ostracized and discarded by their local communities. They have similar stories. In both cases, they were job hunting and near poverty and no Muslim asked if they needed help (they did! they could have used cash and food donations after their lame piece of shit ex-husbands who were never even very religious went into polygynous marriages behind their backs with women 15-20 yrs younger!) and when they took of their hijabs to help the job hunt situation, suddenly half a dozen or so Muslims stopped by or called them to tell them to be strong and put it back on. It’s sickening. Both of these women were converts who became Muslim very young when they married their husbands and were pretty on the deen and conservative before. For us converts, community support is paramount. Born Muslims don’t always get this. When The Muslims let us down, it can feel as if Islam is a hollow lie and as if all of Islam let us down. It is easier to see the difference when we are not in need of community support. One can question these women all one wants, but in the end when a community tells you to ‘be patient’ while a loser husband goes for ‘his right’ to polygyny and leaves you in the gutter when you need food and shelter, well, I would be disgruntled, too.

    I know of two or three online women whose blogs I used to follow (a couple of whom were also being betrayed by polygynous loser husbands) who went through similar situations.

    Recently, I re-connected with an old friend who had converted right around the time that I did. She had left Islam and become a born again Christian a few years ago, which I found out when I talked to her. I was saddened to hear that. She had also had a situation where an incident happened that made her feel that the community had ‘turned on her.’

    I know Muslims will be quick to point out weak iman, or say that they weren’t ‘real Muslims’ in the first place. But I think everyone’s deen/iman fluctuates and it is important that everyone get good support from the community because I actually see it as like 80% our fault that women like this have left the community. We just gossip and support the husband and shake our heads at their situation. We should be better than that a million times over.

    I have known some born Muslims who don’t say “I have left Islam” but are basically atheists. I was having a convo with one woman who told me that she realizes her whole cultural outlook and upbringing is informed by her Muslim heritage (she grew up in a Muslim majority county) so she still sees herself as a Muslim even though she doesn’t believe in anything. I think it is different for born Muslims. Hahaha also I know some born Muslims who do some stuff like bra modelling in department store mags or who are transvestites and that is all good and fine for them, but more religious Muslims just think of them as “spoiled” (in desi English) or lost but can you imagine if a convert was doing that, would anyone still think of that person as a Muslim? I say they would all actually still be Muslim, but somehow being Arab or desi keeps the others ‘still Muslim’ more than if one is of a convert background.

  3. Organica: “Of course this isn’t true for EVERY convert, but I would say it’s a big chunk of these people leaving it when the relationship fails.”

    Yes. Blame it on that, if it makes you feel better. Don’t blame it on Islam, its teachings, or its scholars. Because we all know, don’t we, that women don’t ever take the time to learn about the new faith they practice and that therefore they could never become disillusioned by what they’re supposed to believe. It’s all about the man in their lives. Poor women! Unable to think for themselves! Lacking both in faith and reason! For the lack of a penis, a kingdom was lost. But of course, that is exactly what Islamic scholars teach so why would you believe any differently yourself?

    ” But I was born in this religion and don’t feel like I have a choice.”

    You always have a choice. Always. People leave what they’ve known all their lives all the time. Where do you think Muslim converts come from in the first place? Your life is yours to lead.

    Safiya: I think I know the blog you mention. If I had to classify the so-called “lingering darkness”, I wouldn’t blame it on atheism. I believe the author’s claim that they are happy. I would instead look to the remnants of anger and bitterness held by the author towards Islam and those who teach and propagate it. If there’s any lingering darkness, it’s all about the fact that the author feels they wasted so many years on something that never did them any good.

    “, as much as the thought of going back to having that empty space that my faith now fills. ”

    But if you find your new faith to be deficient in some manner, if you find serious flaws in what is taught and what you’re expected to accept “on faith”, as they say — would that not cause a much bigger and many times more destructive “empty space” than simply turning away from Islam? Maybe you’ll never reach that point as a Muslim, but many former Muslims have — they have found that remaining in the faith is far more damaging than leaving it.

  4. Salaam Alaikum,

    Organica – I can understand how you feel being Muslim is an intrinsic part of yourself, but I don’t get about being choose something else if you could. But, then, I’m a convert so I would be baffled by that. I would love you to elaborate further.

    LF – You are so right about converts having far less leeway to act in a certain way and still be viewed as Muslim.

    As for the community thing, I agree too. The ex-Muslims I’ve read state that their loss of faith was something internal, but the misddeds of the community can not of helped matters. Certainly the pain inflicted by those who claim to be you brothers and sisters is something very damaging in itself.

    Little Blue Mum – I do find it interesting that Muslims and ex-Muslims often use the same tone when talking to each other. Accusations of delusion and being ill-informed flow freely from both sides.

    As I’ve stated, faith/religious belief is something so intensely personal, it is not for others to judge. If some states that their reason for leaving Islam is to do purely from disbelief in Islam itself, we should accept that.

    That so many women are having abusive marriages is something terrible in itself, regardless of what affect this has on their religion.

    As the blog author, I believe she’s happy now too, I believe that most who have written on her blog are. Most were made utterly miserable as a Muslim, I can understand why they are happier without it. It might be hard for Muslims to hear, but we need to hear it nonetheless.

    We have a major issue in our community with piety being linked to misery and some pipe dream of sitting on a carpet in a fusty room (preferably in a Muslim country) listening to endless lectures being to only halal and good thing you can do (aside from housework and breeding for the ladies).

    I’m hoping this bubble mentality is subsiding, but there are plenty of $cholars and their acolytes who have a vested interest in keeping this going.

    I really feel that faith/idealology/ values need to be integrated into a full and productive life. They are means, not ends in themselves.

  5. ASAK Safiya, I read thru the blog u r talking about. The stuff on marriage is SPOT ON and so sad but true. Our communities do not value women, especially old converts (as opposed to fresh mea 🙂 ) and those anecdotes were just too typical.

    However, a lot of other of her stuff was sort of typical Islamophobic decontextualized reporting on dumb/cruel/unjust/misogynistic stuff that we Muslims do around the world. To me all of that stuff is bad but is better understood in its particular cultural/political context and is hard to truly pin on Islam, though Islamic interpretation and exegis is sometimes used to support it.

    For me the Hislamic stuff is off-putting and my own feeling of not being in a community setting that I enjoy is just something I have come to accept. But that isn’t true Islam to me. I truly believe that there is an ideal way and I try to follow that, and leave the Hislam to the Beards.

  6. As-Salaamu ‘alaikum,

    That comment from “little blue mum” sounds very much like the sarcastic manner employed by [redacted] in her “[redacted]” persona last year. I mention this because someone suggested to me that “[author of ex-Muslim blog in question]” was using sock puppets (i.e. pretending to be someone else as well as herself) on her blog.

    • Walikum Salaam Yusuf, I’ve removed the names you’ve mentioned. Hope you understand why.

    • Great jumping jellybeans, Indigo Jo! I am not that person you mentioned. I do not have her hand up my sitting down muscle, my body is not made of a special never-sag knit, and my eyes are not made out of plastic googlies. Is it so hard to conceive that there’s more than one thinking female out there in the world? I know we lack that special magical second head, but if it’s what’s doing all your thinking, you might consider using your actual thinking muscle.

    • In addition to pointing out that I’m not Redacted Persona (a comment I’m not entirely sure will be allowed), I want to personally point out to you, Mr. Matthew Yusuf Smith, that I was not being sarcastic. However, please go on believing that I was sarcastic if it’s easier for you to accept. Again, not being sarcastic. (And that last comment was also not sarcastic. And that one. And… wow. This has no end. I should wrap up by saying that my sarcasm sac was surgically removed several years ago and I am now physically incapable of sarcasm of any kind).

  7. Assalamu alaikum, hmmm, where to start? I can see why many people (especially women) may leave Islam, because Islam, and I mean how it’s practiced, and not the ideal version of it that we get in the dawa materials, seems really to be stacked against women. And no it shouldn’t be this way, but many of the “protections” that are Islamicly put in place for women are instead used to oppress and mistreat them. And it’s easy to talk about not letting others weaken your faith, etc., but when you’re told, as a Muslim how community is so important, yet then told, when let down by that community, to “not worry about them” or to “not let them weaken your faith”, well, it’s just so easy to say something like that.

    I really think someitmes that we Muslims are our own worst enemies. And we look like hypocrites when we talk abou the “high status” given to women in Islam, yet some of the places where the worst treatment of women occurs is in so-called Muslim countries, and yeah, you can blame culture to a certain extent,
    but at some point I think you also have to question how the religion is practiced, like if the Prophet never hit any women and children, then why do some men think they have to hit their wives and feel they are justified in doing so? And that’s just one example I can think of.

    I just feel like the morality of whole communities are put on the shoulders of women, and if they step outside of the “bounds” dictated for them, they get all kinds of trouble from the community or they get ignored altogether.

    Sorry for all of the typos. What keeps me Muslim is my belief that there is only one God and that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is his fnal servant and messenger. I don’t think I could ever abandon that, no matter how much I might question certain “rulings”.

    Inshallah this made sense.

    • Walikum Salaam. Yes, it does. 🙂

      It’s interesting that the Muslims here are saying that they stay because of faith and in spite of the actions of the community and the ex-Muslim leave Islam because of loss of faith and not the actions of the community.

  8. Fascinating discussion!

    A quick comment though: to Little blue mum: “People leave what they’ve known all their lives all the time”
    I strongly disagree. People don’t do it all the time. Which is precisely why it is such a remarkable act.

    I agree. Born-Muslims have it easier. And men probably do too. The number of f*ck-ups we’re allowed to commit and remain ‘redeemable’ is clearly superior to those of converts, whom we will be quick to point out have ‘failed’ (failed what? failed whom?). As if, not unlike a government job, the number of years of service gave you a free pass on things!
    I also thing there’s a non-negligible gender issue there (though I’d be particularly keen on hearing other people’s opinions on that..)

    As for people leaving Islam – I can only wish they find their bliss, wherever that may be.

    • Re: your last paragraph. I feel the same and I think lots of people do.

    • But people do leave what they’ve known their entire lives all the time. It really isn’t so remarkable. I’m not just talking about people raised as Muslims becoming something else (although admittedly you get few who will openly admit to it because it’s actually dangerous), but anyone who leaves what they knew behind for something completely different. Just to name one common example: leaving small town life for the big city. I did that, and I can assure you it’s as much of a culture shock as leaving or joining Islam. What about the people who emigrate to a new country? Can you really tell me that it’s rare for people to leave what they’ve always known? How many people do you know offhand who’ve done precisely that? How many more have done it in ways you’d never be able to see just by peering (metaphorically) into their windows?

  9. I’m Muslim but completely shun the Muslim community in the U.S. for that reason. That beautiful sentence in your post sums it up for me: “For those within Islam, kindness may save them so much misery and pain. And that is no small matter.”

    That kindness is not there within the community. I live in a Muslim country now and even though I am often sickened by the holy rollers – it’s nice to be around ‘normal’ Muslims.

    Either way, I hope that everyone, Muslims and Non-Muslims find a path to spiritual peace and contentment.

    – Came to your blog from Nicole’s – looking forward to reading it on a regular basis.

    • Salaam Alaikum,

      Yes, for all the problems that Muslim majority countries have (problems which are often more related to politics and economics with a hefty slice of post-colonialism), it is good to meet a variety of Muslims and see people living their faith in different ways.

  10. just wanted to make it known that a certain ex-muslim blogger, whose blog is named after something from nordic mythology, has, in a malicious move, seen fit to post a comment under my online name in the comments section of one of her earlier blog posts. the cooment itself reads “allhu asghar” and has nothing to do with me. she posted that after i called her out on the rampant sock puppetry on that blog (sayyeed, bettye, gaius) and the fact that the accounts are more than likely faked. after mention of the multiple identities the comments from one of the suspected sock puppets started to take on a very tongue-in-cheek , so what if ia m just an alter ego type tone, but this was never the case in the earlier commnets made by these identities.

  11. Leave the she/he/we of said website be, if it bothers you. Many of these women who leave the faith have studied extensively, yet only know an Islam which truly hates on women. It is a pretty easy vein of thought to find in the literature to be honest. Many of these women were “good” Muslims who gave up things they loved, obeyed their spouses without question against their better judgment (which technically doesn’t have weight anyhow), and lived a sheltered isolated life for years while watching the men around them not have to ante up the same degree of sacrifice. You can talk about how men should have Rahma, but really it boils down to if you have a genuine say in your life or not. Most scholars would say women ultimately do not, they may have opinions that may be overrided by someone with more power be it a father, spouse, or scholar.

    A dear friend of mine left Islam last year after 25 years of abuse by her spouse. She can now have friends, go to the movies, and even go grocery shopping during the day instead of at 6am. If I lived the Islam she knew, I would have left too.

    I have never been “good” Muslim. “Good” women take their lot and embrace all that they cannot have/do with hopes of a enjoyable existance after death. Their self denial is their badge of honor. Yet the menfolk, never make even an inkling of the same degree of sacrifices. It wears on you after a while, you know.

    Anyhow, my apologies for poor grammar. It has been a while.

    • Salaam Alaikum,

      Thank you very much for your comment. I agree with what you have said entirely, especially: “If I lived the Islam she knew, I would have left too”.

      Feel free to comment more often.

      As for why I’m concerned, I guess it’s the adage of something being difficult to hear, but needing to hear it.

  12. @bettye/signy,

    it was apparent to me before yusuf left his comment that you were employing multiple identities on your blog.

    my reason for posting my comment on thtis blog was not to highlight the fall from grace of, “like, the blahg queen” but instead to make it known that the comment which you saw fit to write (in the capital letter free style that i use, i might add) using my name, africana, was nothing to do with me. as a muslim, the use of the term “allahu asghar” is absolutely reprehensible.
    if you could lower yourself to that, i would not put anything past you.

  13. i have good reason to believe you are using sock puppets.

  14. i want to make it clear that my reason for posting on this blog was to diassociate myself from the blasphemous comment that signy/bettye/little blue mum posted under my name. the mention of the sock puppetry was made only because the comment which i had posted to her and which she deleted and replaced with the words “Allahu asghar” was in regards to her use of multiple identities.

    bettye/signy/little blue mum is clearly trying to deflect attention away from the very real issue of attempting to smear a real person.

    but i will add, since i am here, that suppposed concern for the plight of muslim women doesn’t sit well with ridiculing all that they hold dear.

    i am increasingly under the sincere impression that the owner of the ex-muslim blog, named after a nordic viking concept, is suffering from a condition that causes pathological craving for attention. i hope she can get some help soon. sincerely.

    • Salaam Alaikum,

      Firstly – smears on people’s mental health are not welcome here, no matter what.

      However, I saw the comment and I agree it was completely unacceptable to do that. It’s not a matter of being offensive, it’s just utterly facile to change someone’s comment in such a manner. What is the point?

      “that suppposed concern for the plight of muslim women doesn’t sit well with ridiculing all that they hold dear. ”

      Quite. But I suppose they’d argue it’s for our own good as we’re too stupid to decide for ourselves or something.

  15. […] Note: I wrote most of this last week, before the sister who posts here as Africana revealed her suspicions about “sock-puppets” (people pretending to be other people as well as themselves) at the ex-Muslim blog Here in Glitnir, which puts the rest of the content on that blog in a rather different light. I was never wholly convinced about how genuine the ex-Muslim and ex-practising Muslim stories on Glitnir were, but aspects of them still do ring true. Further discussion of that issue is in the comments to this post. […]

  16. Assalaam alaikum; what with three blogs all discussing the same thing, it is difficult to know which way to turn! Alhamdulillah it is great that these issues are out and all is being discussed so frankly. I just want to add one thing: I once listened to a great lecture on nifaq and kufr, how each and every one of us has the potential (obviously) for both in their absolute, their minumum, and to not have them at all. Many of us I am sure have a faint degree of nifaq, at the very least, and the whole issue of nifaq and kufr is like a cancer: one cell gets affected, then another, then another, so the nifaq leads onto kufr, and so on,until the person leaves Islam. What I would like to say, rather than preaching at everyone, is that these things are by degrees and that we are all susceptible, as we are all susceptible to cancer; since we as humans are all vulnerable to the same diseases, then we should not assume that the door is closed on those people claiming absolute disbelief. Actually personally I don’t believe in their disbelief. They believed once and they can believe again. I think rather than say anything about them, we should have hope; we should somehow try to communicate to them an understanding of their terrible experiences, how sad and bitter they feel and what terrible trauma they have been through. We have to do that because we are all susceptible to the same, whether it is nifaq by first degree or fully blown kufr. From the former to the latter is just a series of steps which are easy and understandable to follow. My feeling is that, once the bitterness and anger and self-justification-style statements and claims dissipate, once the emotion has blown out, then one’s senses and sensibilities return. Once that returns then people are then in a position to assess their real beliefs, and it may not be the kufr that they have so boldly and wrongly claimed before. I have hope for all those whom claim disbelief, and feel we should wait patiently and lovingly until they return. Meanwhile all we can do is try making “staying being Musllim” a much easier thing for all!!

  17. I posted the same at Indigo Jo. Only fair that as a reader and Muslim I say it here too.

    I’m finding this thread absolutely appalling. Africana and Yusuf are spreading rumors about bloggers and your readers, offering no proof for what they say and you let it happen by putting it through moderation. Aren’t we Muslims supposed to be about seeking truth, concern for the sanctity of reputations and backing up what we say with dalil? Instead this is looking like a Muslim version of OK! Magazine. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this sort of hen session here or on other Muslim blogs – nor is it the first time I’ve seen Mr. Indigo at the centre of it. So Africana is mad that a murtad did something obnoxious to her so she is using your forum to raise fitnah with readers and no one points out to her “That blogger is a murtad; being obnoxious is what they do!” Do we really expect an apostate to adhere to our standards of sacred and blasphemous speech? If it is the blog I think it is, then it states plainly there that the owner will edit or change comments as they see fit or of someone posts something obnoxious. If you don’t want to be put in that position, then don’t be obnoxious yourself – or post there at all. I haven’t and so I’m not put in that position.

    Given what I’m reading here, participants enjoy creating drama. You yourself are dragging stuff into it from the other blog. Does Betty’s comments in a discussion there justify you sitting back while Africana and Indigo pile accusations on her here without offering any evidence? As I am reading it now, you’re letting it happen because Betty seems like an exMuslim herself. Maybe the emotional reaction that most of us have to that and our wish that they would go away and not talk about Islam because it hurts/offends/ makes us uncomfortable is what is driving you here. You say you need to hear it, but are you able to? Don’t say that other person is unfair for doing something they said they would do while being unfair to your own readers. In my opinion, you are pretty much doing the same thing. Except you are also allowing – not for the first time – particular visitors to spread takfir of another Muslim without demanding a link to clear evidence like a video of them renouncing it or something to prove what they say. I don’t know about you and the others here, but I take takfir
    seriously. The blessed Messenger (saws) said the accusations come back to you on the day of judgement if they aren’t true. That alone should be enough to stop us all in our tracks, and cause us to run for more salah and more dhikr rather than all this juicy gossip about bloggers who aren’t going to care about us on judgement day.

    I suppose now I too will be accused by these two (are they two different people?) of being a Viking sock puppet like anyone else who calls them out. Really convenient way to shift attention and quash discussion of what I think – and you say you think – is a serious issue. Kudos for letting them do it. And people wonder why Muslim blogging hasn’t caused the sense of community or impetus for change that it has in other communities. As for me, I know that I didn’t contribute as a commenter here or at Yusuf’s, but I want you both to know you’ve lost a reader in this sister, I think. We need positive fruitful writing, not hen sessions and takfir. Or at least, this Muslim does. Salam and the best.

    • Salaam Alaikum,

      Right, let’s bust out the bold font here.

      I wrote this post to explore what is a difficult and complex issue, not to gossip. I left names and blog names out of it, on purpose, to prevent any negative attention being drawn to the blogs in question and to respect the bloggers right to have a safe space.

      I should not have allowed speculation about sock puppetry to appear here. For that,

        I am sorry

      . If those involved want the comments removed, I will be happy to do so.

      I do not permit takfiring or related rumour mongering on this blog. I do not think that has occurred here. When someone has mentioned a name, I redacted it.

      In regards to comments at other blogs, I find completely altering someone’s comment to be unnacceptable, I have received many extremely unpleasant comments over the years, you delete them, not twist someone’s words. I hold everyone to the same standard of behaviour, whatever their beliefs. To counter one of your other points, I do not think that leaving Islam makes someone a bad/terrible or as you put it, obnoxious person.

      As for my response to Bettye, maybe I should have been more polite, but someone playing Haraam Police/You Bad Muslim brings out my cantankerous side.

      I am sorry you found this post disappointing. Thank you for taking the time to draw my attention to these issues.

      Ma’salaama

  18. Salam,

    I find that with a lot of ex-Muslims, the events that trigger them are often those with complex psychological repercussions and involve a lot of emotion. This causes one to lose sight of reason and logic, especially if one can make a link to Islam (by a divorce with a Muslim) and the ex-Muslim feels rage and the need for revenge also. Thus they rebel against Islam.
    If only people continue to think deeply over things, then they would stick with Islam. This is why I emphasise learning about reasoning, especially Islamic philosophy and Ash’ari kalam with the proofs of Islam to fight waswasa whilst keeping the company or seeking the company of those who are close to Allah (as often such people perform miracles clearly).

    Wa salam

  19. Bettye, be that as it may, it was wrong for Signy to alter Africana’s comment. She should have at least made it obvious that she edited the comment by italicizing the ‘allah asghar’ or something, like she usually does.
    (Note that I’m also an ex-muslim, who loves Signy’s blog.)

    And Safiya, you don’t need to stoop to Signy’s level by leaving Africana’s accusatory comments unmoderated.

  20. Salam Safiya,

    This is a thought-provoking post that I like and understand your passion while writing it. I see the issue that you presented has multi-layered subjects that can’t be simplyfied in a comment but I’ll try my best to make it short and I have no intention to judge people’s faith.

    Believing in Allah and Prophet Muhammad, which is the core of Islam plus other few things, is something that can’t be forced by whoever. Hence, I see that a person’s faith that dosen’t depend on both mind and heart plus keep working on improving, it usually fade out. This is the basic faith portion of Islam and accepting it as a religion.

    The other portion is Interaction where kindness -that you mentioned- is an important role for lingering the human interaction: i.e. how Muslims deal with eacthother. Nevertheless, how Muslims (or non Muslims) deal with Allah is a different subject that other humans can’t play a role in it since it’s faith as I explained.

    In the light of this, I think we can understand -not judge- whey someone enter or leave Islam, whether this is declared in the real or virtual world. Moreover, checking out the stories of famous converts to Islam might help in supporting my point of view.

    On the other hand, we -Muslims- do complain from many stupid actions comitied by other Muslims; however this is not a reason to leave Islam for many because faith is rooted in the land of conviction about Allah, the Almighty Creator, plus many other things related to Islam as whole, not only the actions of some Muslims. We, rather, stand up and shed lights on this, and a one example about this is Women status in Islam and what MMW, AltMuslimah, and others do for that matter, an so on.

    Anway, as I started, I won’t judge people’s faith because Allah shall judge every person according to his/her real status that Allah know it.. Finally, I wish I haven’t place a long comment but your post is rich enough for that 🙂

  21. I stumbled onto this blog by chance whilst procrastinating from exams and have been reading with great interest, and feel like putting in my 2 cents worth.

    As someone from a South Asian background having been brought up in the west, I guess I am one of those people who get a ‘free pass’ in not having to prove their ‘muslimness’ by virtue of fitting the ‘right’ racial profile (in aussie slang, being ‘curry’), having a recogniseably persian/’islamic’ sounding name, and being a ‘born muslim.’ But you know what, none of this matters as I am an agnostic and always have been. Yet to my amusement, people who I’ve only just met automatically make an assumption about my personal faith/religious beliefs based on these superficial characteristics.

    I hate the terms ‘born muslim,’ ‘ex-muslim’ and ‘apostate,’ as they use your perceived ‘muslimness’ as the frame of reference, i.e it implies a reaction to the de facto state of being ‘muslim’ if that makes sense. As someone who has never taken the shahadah and never shown any outward signs of practicing (by fasting or praying), why do others refer to people like me as ‘born muslims’ or ‘ex-muslims’ rather than what we are, that is people of no faith. Some may say oh but you are a ‘born muslim’ (because your parents are muslim) and you’ve just left islam because of weak faith/iman (rendering you an apostate/murtad). What they don’t get is that people like me have NEVER believed in the definitive existence of god (in my case, I have been an agnostic for as long as I can remember). How can people who have never had any iman or belief in god (never mind all the other conditions for being a muslim) be classified as ‘born muslims’ who have apostated. There’s no such thing as a muslim gene which transmits belief from one generation to the next, that’s why imo calling someone a ‘born muslim’ or ”born catholic’ is laughable.

    If you do feel the need to label someone, call them individuals from muslim families/muslim ancestry. Please do not label anyone a muslim (or indeed a catholic or scientologist) unless they expressly self identify as such. As for children under 7 who have not yet developed capacity for critical thinking, they should not be assigned a religious status at all until they come of age, so don’t refer to them as ‘muslim children,’ rather say what they actually are (children born to muslim parents). They can choose a religious affiliation themselves when they are older (or of course go without one).

    Anyway, I think these should be useful rules of etiquette when you meet anyone in real life or talk about well known people in the media. Please please please don’t assume their religious affiliation if they have not self identified as such. As mentioned, I have never seen myself as a ‘born muslim,’ so if anyone tries calling me an ex-muslim/apostate/murtad, I respond by saying that I’m just a person of no faith, a kafir and nothing more.

    Anyway those converts are imo very lucky in the sense that they can define exactly the extent to which they are muslim or not; their default state is sort of a blank slate with which they can define themselves as they wish. As a ‘born muslim’ (sigh that term again), the default state that people place on you is one of inherent muslimness and anything you do is defined in reference to this, whether it is good/bad muslim, pious muslim, slutty muslim, muslim doctor, muslim tap dancer, secular muslim, practicing muslim, non practicing muslim, agnostic muslim, atheist muslim, cultural muslim, apostate, ex muslim now converted to scientology etc etc (can go on forever!!). You are never given a blank slate to work with in defining yourself.

    I would much prefer just being identified as your friendly fence-sitting agnostic residing in australia of pakistani background, without ‘muslimness’ coming into it at all. Is this too much to ask? sheesh.

    P.S. I don’t have anything personal against muslims or the islamic faith per se, it makes my mother and assorted muslims happy and content so good for them. I’m not an ‘ex-muslim’ with an axe to grind like Ayaan Hirsi Ali (although she makes some very good criticism about the faith and its practices imo). Obviously I disagree with a system of organized belief which sets out demands on its followers and states that these are ordained by some unproven deity, hence my disagreement with the islamic faith is similar to my disagreement with Christianity/Judaism/Hinduism/[insert any religion which takes a theist position].

    When talking to someone I’ve never met, I generally stay clear of discussing religious issues. If someone asks me ‘what religion are you?’ (whole minefield by the way, especially if asked by someone who I suspect maybe of muslim background themselves), I usually just mutter something about not practicing/being serious about religion. I don’t want to come out and state that I am not a muslim to a stranger, because a) muslims seem really sensitive about this sort of thing, and may even get really offended, and b) you never know if they’re the sort who’d like to punish ‘apostates’ single handedly themselves.

    My parentals (both practicing, praying muslims) know my views on religion yet they seem to be in denial, almost as if I’m going through a phase. They liken me to my grandfather, an avowed Marxist and atheist in his youth who only discovered religion in his old age (ahh gotta love the mortality thing and hell fire threats as recruitment for religion). They insist that I never tell any of the community of desi ‘aunties & uncles’ (which I don’t plan on anyway, as faith is a very personal thing right?) and they state that regardless of my lack of belief, I am still a muslim because I have ‘muslim blood’ (but then again hindu blood and buddhist blood if you wanna go that far back :p ).

    Lol sorry for the long rambling reply. But yes converts, you don’t know how lucky you have it, that you can define yourself the way you want without people making assumptions for you.

    Cheers.

  22. Months late, I know, but i just stumbled on this.

    I recently discovered that a childhood friend left isalm, and just as you described – it left me feeling uneasy and sad. I think you have made excellent points here – it’s all very well gasping and throwing around assumptions, but we need to realise these things are very real.

    I consider myself very fortunate to have been raised with Islam, because I’m not so sure where I would be otherwise. Not everyone is so lucky and we should remember that faith itself is a gift.

    Thanks so much for posting!

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